Sans any award received in his recent MMFF entry, without batting an eyelash, the comedian said, “ang importante, marami akong napasaya.”
In an almost blitzkrieg ambush interview with Vice Ganda by some friends of the movie press hanging around the coffee shop of ELJ Center at ABS-CBN Studio, the uncontested Box-Office “Queen” of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) was smiling up to his ears, not showing any signs of stress or troubles. Vice Ganda was rushing late to his daily afternoon show It’s Showtime while disclosing in kilometric terms in-between bated breaths his exciting big and small battle over his MMFF entry Fantastica.
Still in cloud nine, Vice disclosed, “Now that the box-office has spoken, parang nakahinga na talaga ako nang malalim. Grabe din kasi ang napagdaan naming lahat during the parade. ‘Di ba nakita ‘nyo naman sa TV nagkalubog-lubog na ang aming mga float sa lubak, pero sige pa rin. Todo pa rin.”
How does he feel being catapulted again as the number one box-office earner? He refused to comment about the alleged ranking of box-office returns, saying: “We will wait na lang for the final report from the MMFF officials, but honestly I was overwhelmed by the turnout of the number of moviegoers on the first day. Na-extend pa nga ng after midnight screenings, ‘di ba?”
Vice added: “Nakakataba ng puso ‘cuz first day pa lang ay sold out na sold out na ang aming blocked screening. So that was really a positive indicator na alive na alive ever ang festival na ito. And also I was more than happy sa report at least sa ibang sinehan ay officially reported na sold out on the first day pa lang ang tickets ng four movie titles as officially announced by the theater owners and happily kasama din ang “Fantastica” doon.”
We wanted Vice to comment on the notion that his entry was short at all of awards, so to speak. The top-rated host-comedian did not mince words either about not getting awards because according to him that is how is it in a competition. There are always losers and winners. To him what is more important is, “marami akong napapasaya.”
To him, this is more than all awards put together not only for himself and the cast and the crew who labored at making a totally entertaining film, but also his co-producers who through the years have stood by his ground in coming out annually with a commercially viable and highly entertaining film not much wanting in either in values and moral content.
Meanwhile, Vice is more than enthused talking about his “winningest” entry, with or without awards. On a serious note, he recalled how he got the idea of “blind casting” at the time the said film was initially conceptualized.
The so-called blind casting made some wonder why Vice sought the participation of no less than Dingdong Dantes from the rival GMA Network as his male lead other than Richard Gutierrez who also was very much associated with said network until his recent jump over to ABS -CBN in his first starring role as blood-spewing vampire.
Vice elaborated, saying: “Setting aside the notion of network rivalry at least for the Holiday Season was such a humbling experience for everyone in the cast, big or small. In a way, it sent some kind of signal for a moratorium to free ourselves or the artists from the self-imposed pressure due to the turf war, albeit temporary in nature.”
At first, Vice gamely admitted to the fact that casting a big star from the rival network was short of intentional, adding that some witty dialogues in the film were weaved in to make fun of the characters supposedly coming from different networks forced to good to make a situational comedy out of the inconvenient situation.
Vice also recalled that it was intentional to play with the names of the characters in Fantastica to elicit the fun and laughter about funny names, adding that the funny-sounding names were part of a collaborative efforts among the cast.
For instance, Vice Ganda is named Bellat, a proprietor of a bungling town carnival called Perya Wurtzbach on the verge of bankruptcy. Bellat (pronounced with only one “l”) as you know in Tagalog language is of course part of a woman’s prized anatomy. Vice’s menagerie of comic characters also lived here and they were all facing ejection. His mother was played by Cannes Best Actress Jaclyn Jose of Ma’ Rosa fame, named Fec, which sounds anatomical if repeated twice, or when spoken many times over.
Dingdong Dantes who played rich best friend to Vice is named Dong Nam, smacked of Korean Gangnam sound. Another character from the magical land was played by Richard Gutierrez named Prince Pryce, as in French Fries if you play with words.
But at the end of the day, according to Vice what matters is that the film fest hopes to be able to reach the Pph1 billion gross target collection if not more, so that the corresponding beneficiaries of the MMFF, like the organizations from different guilds of the movie industry, can get their fair share in due time. Vice Ganda must have gotten some notion about the supposed said beneficiaries not getting their share of the festival’s income up to the present time.
This includes all the industry guilds under the umbrella of the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) under the current Director General Leo Martinez. But this is another story to contend with according to Vice.